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The Dr. Low Chronicles, No. 1

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Recovery Inc., a day program, and a good shrink saved my life. Recovery, Inc. is a program instituted in Chicago by a neuropsychiatrist named Abraham Low in the 1930s. However, its brilliance carried over into this century.

The program can be complex to understand and, at the same time, straightforward. It is a self-help group for mentally ill people, emotionally challenged people, psychoneurotics, or whatever name you want to give people who suffer emotionally and suffer in society because of it.

Dr. Low believes emotional suffering is caused mainly by two significant factors, which he calls the tempers. There are two kinds of temper: angry and fearful. In modern times we might say that the angry temper is directed outward and results in social discord and sometimes violence. In contrast, the fearsome temper is directed inward and can cause depression, lethargy, and hopelessness.

Be Careful about language. Dr. Low never uses psychiatric terms in his method. He prefers to call it temper and lowered feelings. He warns against dramatic and histrionic language, which he calls temperamental lingo. For example, a person who says they can’t take it anymore, everyone’s an idiot, they’re about to jump out a window, or such things is just being dramatic and using temperamental vocabulary, which is full of emotion and has little basis.

Believe in realism. Dr. Low spoke of being realistic about life.

Dr. Low had a deep understanding of human psychology. He formed a method that focused on the trivialities of everyday life.

His method consisted of four parts, including examples at meetings. A person would give an example of triviality in their daily life. 

  • When did you work yourself up?
  • What were your racing thoughts and physical symptoms?
  • What were your spottings?
  • How have you improved since you started practicing the method?

A big part of practicing Recovery, Inc. is spottings. When a gymnast tries a new trick, a coach will spot her, physically ensuring the trick is performed correctly and the athlete doesn’t hurt herself. A verbal spotting is a check on a symptom, an oral check on an uncomfortable thought, feeling, or physical reaction, to an otherwise ordinary situation.

The following are some examples of spottings:

People do things that upset you, not to worry you.

Every time the outer environment acts, we don’t have to react.

Bear the discomfort, and comfort will come.

We get well by the amount of pain we bear.

Keep yourself calm and objective in your daily dealings and conversations with acquaintances, family, and business associates, so you are comfortable functioning in society.  

Dr. Low also addressed physical movements and tasks, working situations, sleep and eating issues, and relationships.

There’s more where this came from, so keep an eye out for subsequent information about the Recovery, Inc method in The Dr. Low Chronicles!

About the Author

Ember Manos Belle

Ember Manos Belle is a 'Systems Advocate' and Behavioral Health Therapist in the NYC area. Ember is the author of Climbing Towards November (2009), and Pause in the Western Rhythm (2019).
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